Landlording A-Z

Getting Your Property Ready to Rent 

You have purchased and closed on your rental property, maybe it’s turnkey or maybe it needs rehab. You have also determined you have the time, skills, and willingness to take on the management yourself. Now it’s time to start preparing your rental.

If you are taking over an existing lease and have tenants already in place, great! Or maybe this is a property that is newly becoming a rental, or the previous owner sold it when vacant. You will need to get your property ready for rent now. Or if you already have tenants, you will need to do this at some point in the future — save this video for when that time comes.

Let’s get your property ready to rent. Here are the steps: 

  • Making it appealing – top tips 
  • Setup for ease of management – keypad locks, etc.
  • Setup for utilities and operational efficiency. 
  • Security – cameras, access, etc
  • Amenities – cost vs increased rent tradeoffs

Top Tips to Boost Your Rental’s Appeal: 

Performing some basic rental property renovations can make your property more desirable and will justify charging market rents. And it doesn’t have to break the bank!

The best renovations for rental property have several long-term benefits for landlords. They allow you to increase rent rates and profitability, and can even mean less property upkeep expenses over the long run. 

Fix or Replace Broken Fixtures 

Fix those broken dishwashers, lights, leaky taps, etc. Consider upgrading light fixtures to LED lighting which boosts property value and reduces energy costs

Modernize dated fixtures. Updating lighting and plumbing fixtures, door hardware, and address numbers can make a dated unit look fresh and modern. 

Upgrade Flooring 

At a minimum, clean the carpets professionally. Better yet, replace carpet with easy-to-maintain flooring such as hardwood, lvt, etc. There are engineered flooring materials that look surprisingly like natural materials, making it easy to find attractive options for any room. 

Modernize Kitchens and Bathrooms 

Focus on upgrading appliances, painting cabinets, new countertops and/or replacing cabinet hardware in the kitchen. In the bathrooms, get new faucets, cabinets and/or hardware. Stainless steel appliances are popular among tenants, very visible in advertising, and relatively affordable. Solid surface countertops are another popular feature, and have the added benefit of being durable and easy to keep clean. 

Paint the Walls

One of the easier improvements you can make. Stick with light, neutral colors. Consider using same color throughout entire unit or even in all properties for ease of re-painting and touchups. 

Improve Landscaping 

First impressions matter. Focus on curb appeal, such as a neatly trimmed yard with fresh landscaping. Consider outdoor living spaces these days – patios, decks, etc. Fresh mulch goes a long way toward making a property look tidy, and helps minimize the need for weeding and other costly site maintenance. 

Allow Pets 

Allowing pets can increase the pool of potential renters. Charge pet rent and consider pet-friendly landscaping, materials, flooring, etc. 

internal link Also Read: Best Ways to Increase Rent: Collect Fees for Pets in Rental Property

Consider Professional Photography 

Nice professional photos and video in your listings goes a long ways when potential tenants are quickly scrolling through listing platforms 

internal link Also Read: Maximize Rent: 6 Property Renovations to Boost Income

Setting Up for Ease of Management

You will want to make your property as easy as possible to manage tasks on-site when necessary. That could involve things like access for maintenance people and other outside vendors, landscaping crews, package delivery, access to common areas, and even access to individual units for repairs and showings. If you have the time and inclination, you could plan to do this yourself, but that can be limiting. Alternatively, you could have someone on-site to handle these tasks, but that can be expensive. Or you could provide a safe and secure way to provide access either through keys and lock boxes, or with smart locks.  

Smart locks are secure and convenient, and you don’t have to worry about keys and codes getting into the wrong hands that you might otherwise with lock boxes.  

Also if you need to change locks between tenants, smart locks can be reprogrammed easily, saving you lots of time and money. 

Get the property set up so that access is easy, easy to care for materials, resources on site: 

  • Use smart locks and lockboxes to make access easy. 
  • Use the same paint colors 
  • Durable, cleanable finishes – no tile countertops, no glass electric cooktops, vinyl flooring, etc 
  • Common storage areas for tools, mowers, etc
  • Keep a vacuum, broom, and basic tools onsite

Utilities and Operational Efficiency

Many of a rental property’s operating expenses can be managed with strategic planning and smart setup of the systems and facilities. Here are a few ways you can decrease operating expenses: 

Landscaping

Consider the removal of landscaping that takes intensive watering. Limit irrigated to areas that add the most aesthetic appeal to the property, and choose drought-resistant plantings whenever possible. Consider installing automated drip irrigation on a smart controller, in order to reduce water usage and eliminate it when rainfall will meet irrigation needs. Mulch planting areas in order to reduce the need for weeding. 

Remove high-maintenance landscaping such as lawns, which require water and mowing. More and more people are installing turf, as it is maintenance-free. Make sure not to let cost savings take precedence over how attractive your property is, however, as the first priority is to ensure that renters want to live there. 

Utilities

Water is a major expense in most rental markets, and it is easy to miss areas where it is being wasted. 

Check toilets and faucets to make sure they are not leaking. Check hose bibs for leaks, and consider removing the knob or installing a keyed model if they are in a public place where they could be inappropriately used or left on. 

Where financially feasible, set your building up so that tenants pay directly for the water, electricity, and gas they use. Otherwise, you’ll run the risk of paying for some of their usage, and have a task on your hands to measure and back-bill the expenses. 

Consider adding meters for each unit, so that the utility will bill the residents directly. This is often expensive and/or not possible, in which case you can look at installing aftermarket metering devices, many of which are now Wi-Fi enabled. 

Each property is different and will have specific opportunities to manage operating expenses without unreasonable logistical, time commitment, or upfront costs. 

Security

Tenants will be looking for a home that is safe and secure. This includes both their individual apartment as well as the building, grounds, and common areas.  

Investing in crime prevention on your rental property not only helps reduce potential legal liability, but also signals to your current and prospective tenants that the landlord does not take lightly their responsibility for tenant safety and security on their property.   

Here are some of the major areas to focus on: 

  • Entrances and Doors: deadbolts/locks/smart doorbell systems/smart common area entry systems 
  • Windows: locks/security bars/contact sensors 
  • Alarms/Security Systems 
  • Security Cameras 
  • Motion Sensors
  • Lighting 
  • Personnel 

internal link Also Read: Landlord Responsibility for Tenant Safety: Cameras, Alarms and Solutions to Secure Your Rental

Amenities

Offering some of these extras in your rental property can differentiate your listing from others and generate more interest. This can also allow you to increase rent and boost your income. Here are the top 8 apartment amenities that renters want. 

  • Outdoor space: decks, gardens, patios, etc 
  • Pet-friendly amenities: dog park, washing facilities, pet concierge services, etc 
  • High-speed internet 
  • In-unit laundry
  • Air conditioning 
  • Parking and transportation options 
  • Package delivery system: secure room, theft prevention, notification, etc 
  • Smart home technology: video intercoms, keypads, smart locks, thermostats, etc 

You also need to consider space, cost, and land use requirements. For instance, adding a swimming pool to your building may be cost-prohibitive on your property. Landlords and property owners need to determine which amenities will offer the best return on their investment.

internal link Also Read: Best Ways to Increase Rent: Top 8 Apartment Amenities Renters Want

Takeaway

Preparing your rental property for tenants involves several key steps to maximize appeal and operational efficiency while minimizing upkeep costs. Modernizing fixtures, flooring, kitchens, and bathrooms, applying fresh paint, and enhancing landscaping can help increase appeal. Similarly, installing smart locks and streamlining maintenance access will allow for easy management. It’s also best to provide attractive amenities that will boost tenant satisfaction and long-term profitability.



Landlording A-Z Series

Our Landlording A-Z series will walk you through each of the stages, tasks, and issues involved in rental real estate investing. In our next installment, we’ll discuss creating your tenant selection criteria.

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About Chris Lee

Chris Lee, Co-Founder, Landlord Gurus


Chris comes from a family of real estate investors, and remembers well his childhood of helping to clean and paint apartments between renters.


Chris is a licensed real estate broker and now manages a mix of his own property and others for family, consisting of single family homes, multi-family complexes, and the occasional condo unit in and around Seattle. He also has particular insight into the issues around short-term rentals as he has managed those for himself and for other owners on AirBnb, VRBO, and other platforms.


Prior to Landlord Gurus, Chris worked in website development and digital marketing, assisting firms across a wide range of industries. He, along with his wife and two kids, also found themselves living and working overseas for several years.


Upon his return to the US, Chris often turned to Eli for property management advice and help with property maintenance. At this point, the two decided to start Landlord Gurus to help the countless others searching for answers to similar problems.


In his free time, Chris enjoys outdoor sports and activities including baseball, skiing, golf, hiking, and spending time with family and friends.


Education:
- BA, Economics - Whitman College
- MA, Pacific International Affairs - University of California, San Diego
- MPA, Public Accounting - Open University of Hong Kong

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